Monument of Indecision

by Henry Washer

CA

The Monument of Indecision is a sculpture-installation for Burning Man 2018. A monument to the power and weight of individual choice. A place for reflection and self empowerment. Everyone has the capacity for good and bad and I want this piece to inspire the contemplation of one’s own decisions. This is a sanctuary for the individual to seek out their own wisdom and truth unique to themselves. 

The structure is a place to reflect on the decisions we’ve made or choices we will have to make. The man is sculpted as a physically strong figure to remind people that making a choice takes strength and courage and should not be taken lightly. In the day time, the viewer can come take refuge in the space and look at the sculpture with natural light to see the starkness of a situation. At night they can return and see the space lit up with the dancing lights of his potential, showing that with strength comes beauty, kindness, and the possibility of a better world. 

Henrywasher Monumentofindecision GIF

Physical Description

The Main structure consists of 4 large wooden columns that stand vertical by use of guy wires, creating a 12’x12’x12’ central room. Jutting out in all directions are smaller auxiliary spaces. Shade cloth covers all of the spaces.  In the center of the room is a larger than life size cast concrete sculpture of a man sitting hunched over. The robust physicality of the man illustrates the severity of contemplation as a physical and mental struggle. A 7’ fiberglass orb ominously floats above him, with the top peaking out of the shade cloth. From the man’s open hands, strings of light spiral upwards around the orb. The lights form a series of tracks that are filled with illuminated schools of swimming fish, flying insects, and dancing geometric shapes. The objects are LED illuminated laser-cut acrylic. The space above him is a cloud of glimmering decisions and possibilities represented by a cacophony of lights, that expand throughout the room with an ungoverned natural energy.

 

Building Materials

1/8” aircraft cable, cast concrete, laser cut plastic attached to LED strips, prefabricated Douglas Fir posts, shade cloth, fiberglass orb.

Budget

Concrete Sculpture and Rubber Mold- $5,000

Orb/Light Elements- $5,000 

Structure- $3,000

Transportation and Installation- $2,500

Fundraising and Administrative Fees- $3,000

Total $24,000 

Lighting Plan

The lighting in this installation is just as important to the overall story of the piece as the main central figure is.  In the center of the space, suspended 7’ off the ground, is a translucent white fiberglass orb with a diameter of 7’.  This will emit a soft glow.  A series of lights starting from the man’s hands, head, and back will swirl around and up towards/into the orb.  There will be series of laser cut plastic in the shape of creatures. These creatures will have programmed illumination creating a sense of movement from the center of the space outwards towards the posts and auxiliary spaces. There will also be orbital lights and creatures that circle around the space between posts and orb.  Through out the upper space will be also randomized LED lights to add to the feeling of chaos.  Above all of the lights will be a 3D matrix made of tied neon string illuminated by UV lights.  The posts will have concentric EL wire circles around the base creating a ripple effect.

 Post Burning Man Plans

If this installation was to be placed in an urban environment, I would simplify or even remove the shade structure and attach the aircraft cables holding up the lighting elements to whatever structure would be available.  If this project was to be installed in an open space, no changes would be made.

Safety and Engineering

The main structure is made up of 4 posts.  Each post is composed of 3 12’ long 4x4s bolted together with 2x4 block spacers.  These posts are tensioned to each other by use of 1/8” aircraft cable and then anchored at two points on the ground opposite of the central force.  The stakes for the guy wires will be augur anchors.  Each post will be attached to 1 1/2” plywood panels by use of metal L brackets and the plywood bases will be staked down with 4 rebar stakes.  The structure will have a roof of stretched shade cloth that is zip-tied to the aircraft cable. The seams between the shade cloth will be enough to let wind pass through, minimizing wind load.  

The orb is a fiberglass shell estimated to be maximum 200lbs.  This puts 50 lbs of force to each post.  The weight of the orb will be held by 8 cables, 2 going to each post. The animated and static lighting will hang from the upper set of cables by use of strings and gaffing tape. 

During installation and breakdown all workers will wear and use proper personal protective equipment. 

All ground level guy wires will be covered in LED lights.  The stakes will have EL wire concentric circles to look like ripples and to announce their presence. 

Leave No Trace Plan

Most of this installation will be pre-fabricated to minimize the amount of work on playa and amount of debris to deal with.  If anything is needed to be cut on site, a tarp will be put down to gather all sawdust. When cutting zip-tie tails, each member will have a tool pouch on their belt to collect tails.  We will bring a garden rake and magnetic rake to make sure playa is free of any and all miscellaneous debris. 

Perk Preview 

 “Enlightenment means taking full responsibility for your life.” 

William Blake

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